Metros, wind farms and skyscrapers: the biggest urban projects to hit Africa in 2015

Dar es Salaam: Africa's fastest-growing city. Image: Getty.

Cities in Africa are growing fast. Over the past 50 years, the continent's urban population has doubled, from 19 per cent to 39 per cent; and by 2030 that population is expected to almost double again.

As a result, projects across the continent are springing up to meet the new wave of urban dwellers. Here are a few developments to watch out for in 2015. 

A brand-new metro system

Testing has started on the US$475m light rail project in Addis Ababa, expected to be running by May 2015. Stretching for a combined 32km, two lines dividing Addis Ababa north-south and east-west will serve 39 stations in underground and overground sections.

Africa’s tallest skyscraper 

 Image: Middle East Development LLC.

The Al Noor Tower is a 114-floor skyscraper planned for the Moroccan city of Casablanca. At 540m, it's set to be the tallest in Africa and will cost over $1bn to construct.

The final height is meant to act as a tribute to the 54 countries that make up the African continent,  and the mixed-use building would house a seven-star luxury hotel, art gallery, spa, fine-dining restaurants and luxury boutiques, alongside an exhibition centre and offices.

Africa's biggest wind farm

Kenya has officially given the go-ahead for a giant wind farm in the Lake Turkana region. The farm will play host to almost 400 turbines, is expected to produce around 300 MW of electricity, and according to a media statement will save Kenya approximately $78m in fuel imports every year. The project aims to produce 20 per cent of the country’s current installed electricity generating capacity when it comes online in 2016.

This will be a wind farm soon, we promise. Image: Lake Turkana Wind Power.

The fastest-growing city

Work begins on a Dar es Salaam highrise in April 2014. Image: Getty.

In a recent report, the African Development Bank predicted that Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, will be Africa’s fastest growing city between 2010 and 2025, growing from 3.3 million to 6.2 million people – an 85 per cent increase. Nairobi, Kenya, and Kinshasa, DRC, are expected to be the second and third fastest growing cities by 2025, at 77.3 per cent and 71.8 per cent respectively.

A city built from scratch 

Work has started on a "new city" in Modderfontein, Johannesburg, which is expected to cost around 84bn South African rand ($7bn). Improbably, it's expected to look like this:

A city of giant pimples.Image: Shanghai Zendai Property.

According to The Business Report, so far they've started small with construction on 300 residential units and a few roads. 

Rashiq Fataar is the founder, Editor in Chief and Managing Director of Future Cape Town, where this article was first posted.

 


 

 
 
 
 

Covid-19 is highlighting cities' unequal access to green space

In the UK, Londoners are most likely to rely on their local park for green space, and have the best access to parks. (Leon Neal/Getty Images)

As coronavirus lockdowns ease, people are flooding back to parks – but not everyone has easy access to green space in their city.

Statistics from Google show that park attendance in countries across the globe has shot up as people have been allowed to move around their cities again.

This is especially true in urban areas, where densely populated neighbourhoods limit the size of private green space – meaning residents have to go to the park to get in touch with nature. Readers from England can use our interactive tool below to find out how much green space people have access to in their area, and how it compares to the rest of the country.

 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s announcement Monday that people are allowed to mingle in parks and gardens with groups of up to six people was partially following what people were doing already.

Data from mobile phones show people have been returning to parks across the UK, and also across Europe, as weather improves and lockdown eases.

People have been returning to parks across the world

Stay-at-home requirements were eased in Italy on 4 May, which led to a flood of people returning to parks.

France eased restrictions on 1 May, and the UK eased up slightly on 13 May, allowing people to sit down in public places so long as they remain socially distanced.

Other countries have seen park attendance rise without major easing of lockdown – including Canada, Spain, and the US (although states there have individual rules and some have eased restrictions).

In some countries, people never really stopped going to parks.

Authorities in the Netherlands and Germany were not as strict as other countries about their citizens visiting local parks during lockdown, while Sweden has famously been avoiding placing many restrictions on people’s daily lives.


There is a growing body of evidence to suggest that access to green space has major benefits for public health.

A recent study by researchers at the University of Exeter found that spending time in the garden is linked to similar benefits for health and wellbeing as living in wealthy areas.

People with access to a private garden also had higher psychological wellbeing, and those with an outdoor space such as a yard were more likely to meet physical activity guidelines than those without access to outdoor space. 

Separate UK research has found that living with a regular view of a green space provides health benefits worth £300 per person per year.

Access is not shared equally, however, which has important implications for equality under lockdown, and the spread of disease.

Statistics from the UK show that one in eight households has no garden, making access to parks more important.

There is a geographic inequality here. Londoners, who have the least access to private gardens, are most likely to rely on their local park for green space, and have the best access to parks. 

However the high population in the capital means that on the whole, green space per person is lower – an issue for people living in densely populated cities everywhere.

There is also an occupational inequality.

Those on low pay – including in what are statistically classed as “semi-skilled” and “unskilled” manual occupations, casual workers and those who are unemployed – are almost three times as likely as those in managerial, administrative, professional occupations to be without a garden, meaning they rely more heavily on their local park.

Britain’s parks and fields are also at significant risk of development, according to new research by the Fields in Trust charity, which shows the number of people living further than a 10-minute walk from a public park rising by 5% over the next five years. That loss of green spaces is likely to impact disadvantaged communities the most, the researchers say.

This is borne out by looking at the parts of the country that have private gardens.

The least deprived areas have the largest gardens

Though the relationship is not crystal clear, it shows at the top end: Those living in the least deprived areas have the largest private green space.

Although the risk of catching coronavirus is lower outdoors, spending time in parks among other people is undoubtedly more risky when it comes to transmitting or catching the virus than spending time in your own outdoor space. 

Access to green space is therefore another example – along with the ability to work from home and death rates – of how the burden of the pandemic has not been equally shouldered by all.

Michael Goodier is a data reporter at New Statesman Media Group, and Josh Rayman is a graphics and data visualisation developer at New Statesman Media Group.